Arroyo Has Faltered on Major Areas of Concern Pimentel

Jul. 24, 2006

Five and a half years after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power, the ordinary Filipinos are economically worse off, the Philippines remains an economic laggard in East Asia, corruption and criminality are alarming and the human rights situation is deteriorating, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said today.

Pimentel said that the average 5 percent annual economic growth is nothing to crow about because it is hardly felt by most families who complain that their income is failing.

As far as I could sense, the ordinary man in the street is worse off under the circumstances, especially with the rising cost of petroleum products, he said.

He said the typical workers now have to spend more for transportation to and from their workplaces while the costs of basic commodities, as well as electricity, cooking gas and water, are going up.

According to the nationwide Social Weather Stations survey conducted June 22 to 28, the number of household heads who rated themselves poor rose to 59 percent in June from 55 percent recoded in March.

Similarly, another survey from the Ibon Foundation, conducted June-July this year revealed that 69.3 percent of Filipinos consider themselves poor. The survey also said 67.2 percent of respondents said their incomes could no longer sustain their needs.

Therefore, no amount of window-dressing by the President, by citing statistics will cover up this malady. She cannot claim that the economy is much better now than before, Pimentel said.

On the matter of law and order, Pimentel said that only last week another broadcast journalist, Armando Pace of Digos City in Davao del Sur, was murdered by hired killers, making him the 48th newsmen to be killed since the start of the Arroyo presidency in


A few weeks ago, he said a young couple, both community journalists, were gunned down in Koronadal, North Cotabato by motorcycle-riding hit men.

Pimentel said no less than newly-installed Philippine National Police director general Oscar Calderon has admitted that street crimes are on the upsurge while the Citizens Action Against Crimes reported a 40 percent rise in kidnap-for-ransom incidents in the first six months of the year.

This is a very big contradiction of the projection of the administration that they are on top of the law and order situation, he said.

Pimentel said the abolition of the death penalty was meant to preserve life but this has become farcical in the wake of unabated extra-judicial killings of leftists militants. Karapatan and other human rights groups have reported up to 650 victims of salvaging over the last five years.

He also criticized the administration campaign against graft and corruption as weak because personalities close to the Palace have remained untouchable.

The Philippines has to bear the stigma as the second most corrupt nation in Asia, based on the survey of expatriate business executives by a Hong Kong-based think tank group.

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